Court halts transfer of stake in Dutch nuclear plant

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The Dutch Supreme Court placed an interim freeze Friday on plans to transfer a 50 percent stake in the Netherlands' sole nuclear power station, fully state-owned, to German energy company RWE.

A stipulation in the constitution of the plant's managing company that it must remain publicly owned was "not in conflict with European law on ... the free movement of capital," a court ruling said.

The power station, in Borssele in the southern Zeeland province, is operated by EPZ, owned by Dutch energy companies Delta and Essent, both previously in the hands of municipalities and thus 100 percent state-owned.

In 2009, Essent was bought by RWE, Germany's second-biggest energy company with mostly private investors, for 7.3 billion euros ($10 billion).

Essent's 50 percent stake in EPZ was excluded from that deal but Essent later announced plans to transfer its share in the power station to RWE.

Co-owner Delta, insisting that EPZ must remain state-owned, sought relief in the Dutch courts and obtained an interim order prohibiting the transfer until a ruling is made on the merits of the case.

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed an appeal by Essent against the ruling.

© 2011 AFP

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